Georgian Genetics: Abstracts and Summaries

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Family Tree DNA: Genetic Testing Service
Genetic testing will reveal your relationships to other families, other tribes from the Caucasus, and ethnic groups outside of the region. People who descend from ethnic Georgians patrilineally or matrilineally are invited to join Family Tree DNA's Georgian DNA Project administered by Irakli Akhvlediani, Jemal Gogitidze, and Kaji Senescal which has many hundreds of members.

The Georgian people mainly live in the southwestern Caucasus in the Republic of Georgia. The Georgian language belongs to the Kartvelian language family, which also includes Mingrelian, Svan, and Laz. Georgian is written in a beautiful curved script called Mkhedruli that's very different from the neighboring Armenian, Cyrillic, and Latin scripts.

The Y-DNA (paternal DNA) of Georgian men reveals significant ancestry from the Middle East and Caucasus. Haplogroup J2 originates in the northern part of Southwestern Asia (the Near East) while G is very common among peoples of the Caucasus and probably also originated in the Near East close to Georgia.

Major studies of Georgians

Vincenza Battaglia, Simona Fornarino, Nadia Al-Zahery, Anna Olivieri, Maria Pala, Natalie M. Myres, Roy J. King, Siiri Rootsi, Damir Marjanović, Dragan Primorac, Rifat Hadžiselimović, Stojko Vidović, Katia Drobnič, Naser Durmishi, Antonio Torroni, Augusta Silvana Santachiara-Benerecetti, Peter A. Underhill, and Ornella Semino. "Y-chromosomal evidence of the cultural diffusion of agriculture in southeast Europe." European Journal of Human Genetics 17:6 (June 2009): pages 820-830. First published online on December 24, 2008. (mirror)
      Y-DNA was collected and studied from 1206 males representing 17 populations, mostly from southeastern Europe. 66 Georgians from previous research were included. The Georgians' Y-DNA haplogroups were:
E1b1b1a2 among 1.5%
E1b1b1c among 1.5%
G2a* among 30.3%
G2a3c among 1.5%
I1* among 1.5%
J1* among 3%
J1b among 1.5%
J2a* among 10.6%
J2a1a among 1.5%
J2a1b* among 15.2%
J2a1b1 among 3%
J2a1k among 1.5%
L3 among 1.5%
R1a1* among 10.6%
R1b1b2 among 9.1%
R2 among 4.5%
T among 1.5%

Siiri Rootsi, Natalie M. Myres, Alice A. Lin, Mari Järve, Roy J. King, Ildus A. Kutuev, Vicente M. Cabrera, Elza K. Khusnutdinova, Kärt Varendi, Hovhannes Sahakyan, Doron M. Behar, Rita Khusainova, Oleg Balanovsky, Elena Balanovska, Pavao Rudan, Levon Yepiskoposyan, Ardeshir Bahmanimehr, Shirin Farjadian, Alena Kushniarevich, Rene J. Herrera, Viola Grugni, Vincenza Battaglia, Carmela Nici, Francesca Crobu, Sena Karachanak, Baharak Hooshiar Kashani, Massoud Houshmand, Mohammad H. Sanati, Draga Toncheva, Antonella Lisa, Ornella Semino, Jacques Chiaroni, Julie Di Cristofaro, Richard Villems, Toomas Kivisild, and Peter A. Underhill. "Distinguishing the co-ancestries of haplogroup G Y-chromosomes in the populations of Europe and the Caucasus." European Journal of Human Genetics 20 (2012): pages 1275-1282. First published online on May 16, 2012.
      Per Supplementary Table 1, exactly half of the 66 Georgian males included in data here carried G Y-DNA haplogroups. 34.8% of the Georgians were in the subclade G-P16, 6.1% were in G-U1, 4.5% in G-P15, 3% in G-M406, and 1.5% in G-L497.

Ivan Nasidze, E. Y. S. Ling, D. Quinque, I. Dupanloup, R. Cordaux, S. Rychkov, O. Naumova, O. Zhukova, N. Sarraf-Zadegan, G. A. Naderi, S. Asgary, S. Sardas, D. D. Farhud, T. Sarkisian, C. Asadov, A. Kerimov, and Mark Stoneking. "Mitochondrial DNA and Y-Chromosome Variation in the Caucasus." Annals of Human Genetics 68 (2004): pages 205-221.
      This is a comprehensive collection of data on the peoples of the Caucasus Mountains region. Table 1 says that they studied the mtDNA of 57 Georgians and the Y-DNA of 77 Georgians. Table 2 indicates that they found 40 different mtDNA haplotypes among these Georgians, with haplotype diversity of 0.971. Table 3 lists Y-DNA haplogroups found in their samples; 31% of the Georgian men belong to Y-DNA haplogroup G*, followed by J2* at 21%, F* at 14%, R1* at 10%, R1a1* at 10%, I* at 4%, P* at 3%, K* at 3%, E* at 3%, and P1 at 1%. A relevant sentence from the study:

"The Georgian population from Kazbegi had a high frequency of haplogroup J2* (0.72) (Wells et al. 2001)."

Ivan Nasidze and Mark Stoneking. "Mitochondrial DNA variation and language replacements in the Caucasus." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 268(1472) (June 7, 2001): pages 1197-1206.
      57 Georgians and members of 8 other populations from the Caucasus region were genetically tested for this study. 40 mtDNA haplotypes were found among the Georgians. These data carried over into the authors' paper "Mitochondrial DNA and Y-Chromosome Variation in the Caucasus" three years later.

Ivan Nasidze, Tamara Sarkisian, Azer Kerimov, and Mark Stoneking. "Testing hypotheses of language replacement in the Caucasus: evidence from the Y-chromosome." Human Genetics 112 (2003): pages 255-261.
      Y-DNA was sampled from 77 Georgian men along with members of many other Caucasus region peoples. Table 2 indicates that these Georgians possess 67 distinct haplotypes and their resulting haplotype diversity is 0.996.

David Tarkhnishvili, Alexander Gavashelishvili, Marine Murtskhvaladze, Mariam Gabelaia, and Gigi Tevzadze. "Human paternal lineages, languages, and environment in the Caucasus." Human Biology 86:2 (May 2014): pages 113-130.
      224 ethnic Georgian men had 23 of their Y-chromosome STR (short tandem-repeat) markers examined and, in combination with their surnames and regions of origin and DNA haplogroup data from other Caucasian ethnic groups, the researchers successfully "assigned them [the haplogroups] to their geographic places of origin." The Y-DNA haplogroup G2 was found to be associated strongly with the Kartvelian language family. Other ethnolinguistic associations identified by the authors: the haplogroup R1a is Scytho-Sarmatian and found among Kypchak Turkic speakers, R1b is Indo-European and especially common in Armenia and southern Georgia, and J2 is Hurro-Urartian.

S. Litvinov, Ildus A. Kutuev, Bayazit Yunusbayev, Rita Khusainova, R. Valiev, and Elza K. Khusnutdinova. "Alu Insertion Polymorphisms in Populations of the South Caucasus." Balkan Journal of Medical Genetics 11/2 (2008): pages 25-30.
      144 Mingrelians from Georgia were included in this study and were tagged as "Georgians".

David Comas, Francesc Calafell, Nina Bendukidze, Lourdes Fañanás, and Jaume Bertranpetit. "Georgian and Kurd mtDNA sequence analysis shows a lack of correlation between languages and female genetic lineages." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 112:1 (May 2000): pages 5-16. Abstract:

"Mitochondrial DNA sequences from Georgians and Kurds were analyzed in order to test the possible correlation between female lineages and languages in these two neighboring West Eurasian groups. Mitochondrial sequence pools in both populations are very similar despite their different linguistic and prehistoric backgrounds. Both populations present mtDNA lineages that clearly belong to the European gene pool, as shown by 1) similar nucleotide and sequence diversities; 2) a large number of sequences shared with the rest of European samples; 3) nonsignificant genetic distances; and 4) classification of the present lineages into the major European mtDNA haplogroups already described. The outlier position of the populations from the Caucasus according to classical genetic markers is not recognized in the present Georgian mtDNA sequence pool. This result suggests that the differentiation of mtDNA sequences in West Eurasia and the outlier features of Caucasian populations should be attributed to different processes. Moreover, the putative linguistic relationship between Caucasian groups and the Basques, another outlier population within Europe for classical genetic markers, is not detected by the analysis of mtDNA sequences."

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